In the film room…QBs Davis/Hooker

Is it too easy to compare the size of Davis and former Irish QB Everett Golson, and Hooker to current Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer? Perhaps, but it’s accurate.

When Brownsburg, Ind. quarterback Hunter Johnson verbally committed to Clemson in mid-December, it immediately served as a pump of the brakes for Notre Dame’s recruiting process at the quarterback position.

If the Irish could have landed Johnson – Scout’s No. 4-rated passer in the Class of 2017 – there would be no reason to evaluate the rest of the quarterback prospects on Notre Dame’s radar.  But once Johnson cast his lot with the Tigers, the Irish were put in a position to step back, regroup, evaluate the quarterback landscape, and then proceed at a measured pace in pursuit of the next signalcaller to don a Notre Dame uniform.

As of the final week of February, the Irish have two other quarterback offers on the table: Avery Davis, Scout’s No. 10-rated quarterback in the country from Cedar Hill, Texas, and unranked Hendon Hooker from Dudley High School in Greensboro, N.C.

Both are listed as four-star prospects and both have offer lists that are going to expand considerably over the next few months.

Hooker is a long, physically-blessed quarterback prospect who passes the eye test for athletic signalcallers with size. Still in the process of growing into his body and corralling his length, but has the frame of a prototypical big quarterback with gun-slinging capabilities.

Shows an elusive nature under duress. Has a good feel for relief areas within the pocket to buy additional time. A loping runner who should fill out nicely and easily play with a 225-pound-plus frame. Has read-option ability with his God-given gift. Not necessarily a natural running threat in the read-option game, although he certainly has the physical capabilities to do so and is a load to bring down.

Still a raw quarterback prospect. Footwork can get out of whack at times as he relies on his pure physical gifts. Shows a nice touch on the deep ball, but inconsistent in terms of smoothness, delivery and release point. Has a tendency at times to allow the ball to get deep in his throwing motion – the football dips below his elbow on the backswing – which, by form/technique, lends itself to high throws.

It’s those fundamental issues that raise the question of accuracy on the next level. He’ll occasionally push some passes, and with the footwork a hit and miss proposition, he may have difficulty pinpointing passes to the degree that would make him a consistent, accurate thrower.

But that’s an evaluation of a quarterback entering the collegiate level. He still has a season of growth on the prep level, which is time that will benefit him greatly and smooth out some of the rough edges.

The fact that Davis – who engineers Texas 6A powerhouse Cedar Hill High School – has offers from “just” Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Houston, Kansas State, Oregon State and Kansas at this time has a direct correlation to his size.

Listed at 6-foot-0, we know from the pattern through the years that 6-foot-0 generally means a little less. He’s been listed as short as 5-foot-11.

If this were an NFL draft evaluation as opposed to a college recruiting evaluation, there wouldn’t be much more to say about Davis. The number of successful 6-foot-0 or under quarterbacks in recent years would fit on the head a thimble.

But this is college football, and the skills Davis brings to the gridiron on the amateur level are more than enough for him to be a great success, provided he can iron out some fundamental issues in the passing game.

Davis is a true dual-threat quarterback who can hurt you with his free-and-easy throwing motion and soft, catchable passes, or he can spin the head of defenses with a great feel for the read-option game.

Davis truly “sees” the read-option. It’s obvious that he’s deciphering the actions of the defensive end and adjusting accordingly. Naturally, highlight film of read-option quarterbacks rarely shows the handoff to a running back. But Davis’ body language indicates that he’s reading the action in front of him with the bonus of make-you-miss running skills.

When he keeps, he has an explosive first step and has the ability to see ahead in the run and create missed tackles. As it relates to his mobility in the pocket, Davis knows where the pressure points are coming from and comfortably slides to daylight.

This is a gifted thrower on the prep level. The question is will it correlate the next level. His release point generally is at the three-quarter position. He has a tendency to sling it, especially under duress. He short-steps into many of his throws or opens up his lead shoulder and steps to the left. Davis is blessed with accuracy and can really throw the ball around the yard. But the stride/finish point on his deliveries will have to be refined.

Davis throws an extremely catchable ball. Wide receivers love playing with Davis because the ball nestles into their hands. That’s not to say that Davis lacks zip per se, but when it comes to touch, he makes it easy for the other end of the pass-catch duo.

Davis has a very free-and-easy throwing motion, which speaks to the catchable ball on the back end. He carries himself as an unrushed, in-control passer. He has a rapid but unhurried start-to-finish throwing motion. His effortless throwing motion contributes to the fact that he’s a spiral machine.

SUMMARY
Davis is the more complete quarterback of the two, although Hooker has greater room for growth. Prep quarterbacks of Hooker’s dimensions usually haven’t ironed out all the moving parts in their throwing motion, but that’s also true of Davis.

DeShone Kizer, built similarly to Hooker, was probably smoother as a prep quarterback than Hooker is right now, although Hooker still has his senior season to iron out the mechanics. Kizer would tell you he was a much better quarterback his senior year of high school than his junior campaign, and that will correlate to Hooker.

Davis comes from a great prep program and he obviously is very well-schooled in the dual-threat game. His size works to his advantage on this level. He comes across as a poised quarterback.

He doesn’t have the flat-out arm strength or natural passing gifts of former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, but that’s a good comparison in terms of body composition. Davis is a vastly superior read-option decision-maker. In fact, in that area, there is no comparison whatsoever with Golson. The read-option was hieroglyphics to Golson.

Hooker’s offers, which include Notre Dame, Clemson, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, are better than Davis’ at this time. They reflect his long-range potential. Davis is a more well-rounded quarterback, which is why he’s listed as Scout’s No. 94 overall prospect and Hooker is unranked.

Davis visited Notre Dame in the fall and is expected to return March 19 for Junior Day. Hooker has indicated that he’ll be visiting Notre Dame as well.

This likely isn’t a process that wraps up any time soon, although Hooker has said he’d like to have a decision by the start of the 2016 season. He would benefit offer-wise if he allowed his senior-season results to shine a bit more light on his long-term potential.


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